BY JULIA STEINECKE
There are so many other things to do on a romantic getaway to Puerto Vallarta, you may be surprised at how little time you spend on the beach. The coastline is beautiful, but so is the patio of El Arrayán, where I start by sampling plantain empanadas with chipotle and garlic sauce. Lush plants and brightly colored native Huichol art fill the dining area — and in the middle is El Arrayán himself, an aromatic tree that produces small fruits like the one in my drink. Carmen Porras, the owner, introduces me to her wife, the co-owner, Claudia Victoria Rodriguez. They got married in Mexico City in 2010. “I am the face,” says Carmen, “but she runs the restaurant.” Their goal is to provide authentic Mexican cuisine, bringing old family recipes up to date with local ingredients. I move on to slow-cooked Beef Barbacoa, served on a freshly milled corn tortilla, and topped with cactus salad and cilantro.
Down the street, nine art galleries are full of tourists participating in the Art Walk, which runs till 10 p.m. on Wednesday nights during the winter months (October–May). The participating galleries show contemporary paintings, sculpture and textiles. The city is full of galleries — across town, in the Zona Romántica, Basilio Badillo has a few, including Patti Gallardo Eclectic Art and Interior Design. A jewelry artist named Sonia Ruiz is on duty when I drop in. “Patti opened a path for women artists in this town,” she says. On display are pieces by eight artists, and I’m especially drawn to the paintings of winged women. Sonia explains that Patti used to exhibit only women artists, but now also works with men.
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